Dishwashing the Keyboard

This post is long overdue. No one is going to read this, so I’ll give you the short, short version.

I spilled coffee into my keyboard. The right half stopped functioning.

I read blog posts insisting that you can put a keyboard in the dishwasher.

I did.

The left side continued working correctly after the wash, to my amazement, but it did not fix the problem.

The dishwasher miraculously didn’t damage the keyboard, but it didn’t fix the coffee corrupted problem, as I read that it would.

I bought a new one.

The end.

Fly By Night Computer Schools

I do a scan of the radio dial on my drive to work every morning. Most of the time I’m only hearing a bunch of commercials. I practically hear the same ones every day.

There are two computer schools that advertise regularly. I can’t quite determine if they are actual schools or simply some type of online course. It’s not a good sign that I’ve heard these commercials so many times, yet I still don’t know exactly what they are offering. The advertisements sound a little shady to me. They all sound like the empty promise of a get rich quick scheme.

One of these “schools” said that they had a student who enrolled in July and was already working in IT in August. Oh, come on. I don’t believe that. Another ad said a student was hired in the IT department of a large company only four months after being enrolled. That also sounds rather dubious. I doubt that any IT manger has even heard of these shady schools.

The ads don’t mention any specific course material. They’re very generic. There is no jargon spoken. It’s as if they are directing the ads at people who don’t even know how to use a computer, let alone program one. This is not an actual quote, but it’s as if they’re saying, “Hey, people who work in computers make good money, don’t you want to do that too?”

I’m not going to name the schools or point you to their websites because I don’t want to give them any publicity. I haven’t looked into them or visited their sites. I don’t care to. I’m basing my opinion solely on what I hear in the radio commercials. What I hear just sounds a little fishy.

If these schools were in strong demand and enrollment was high, they wouldn’t have to advertise on the radio every morning.

Worn iPhone Home Button Fix

Over last weekend, the home button on my iPhone started to become less responsive. By Sunday night, it had nearly stopped working entirely. To get it to work, I had to mash it hard with my thumb. The amount of pressure required was surely going to wear it out even faster. Double-tapping didn’t work at all. I was worried that my phone would soon be a goner. As it turns out, things aren’t so bad.

I still have an iPhone 5. I bought it 2 1/2 years ago. It has held up remarkably well over that time. It is in nearly flawless condition. I just entered my purchase date in an online date calculator, and it turns out that I have had the phone for a whopping 907 days. I’ve taken very good care of it. Fortunately, the battery also remains in great shape, despite years of usage.

Considering how well my phone as aged, I was disappointed when my home button began to flake out over the weekend. I went online and looked up potential home remedies to get it working again. I learned some interesting tricks.

If the home button is completely unusable, you can still use the phone by enabling AssistiveTouch, which is an Accessibility feature in iOS. You can find it in Settings > General > Accessibility. Once AssistiveTouch is turned on, a small circle will appear at the bottom right of the screen that allows you to use a virtual home button in place of the physical one. Cool!

Since my button was still working to some degree, I looked for a solution to repair it. I found a terrific page listing several such solutions. You can find that page here.

Last night I tried the solution of pressing and wiping around the home button with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. I didn’t seem to make any immediate difference. However, this morning, the home button was suddenly working perfectly again. It’s as good as new! Even the gentlest tap now elicits a response, and double-tapping works again as well. Problem solved!

If you are experiencing a similar problem, visit the link above and try one (or all) of those solutions. Hopefully one will get you up and running!

Searching For 60 Days From Today

I performed a Google search for the phrase: “What is 60 days from today?” I was hoping to see the date calculated and displayed at the top of the search results page, as is the case with math problems and measurement conversions. I didn’t see that.

What I got was some links to various unit converter sites, and a mere four results down, this gem from Ask.com: “60 days from a certain day will depend on when exactly that day is. A calendar will come in handy.” Thanks for that completely useless information.

Security Alert: Port 32764

SECURITY ALERT! Make sure that your Internet router isn’t exposing port 32764. It has been revealed to be a major security hazard, potentially leaking your router admin data and wireless encryption key to hackers. Use the link below to check your port status. Make sure the result on the probe below is STEALTH or CLOSED. If the result of the port scan is OPEN, you should log in to your router administration and change your settings to block that port immediately.

I’ve heard about this security alert two weeks in a row on one of my favorite podcasts, Security Now with Steve Gibson. If you want to hear the details, this was discussed on the latest episode 438. The conversation about this security alert begins at precisely 52:10 in the show.

Check your port: bit.ly/port32764

The Disconnects of a Forgotten Phone

Yesterday morning I rushed out the door and left my phone at home by mistake. I didn’t realize it until I was at work. Beyond the sheer inconvenience of not having it, I became a little worried because I was supposed to meet a friend after work, and the details were not finalized.

I have darted out the door without my phone a few times in the past, but I assumed I wouldn’t be completely disconnected. I can always access the Gmail and Google Voice websites from my work computer to email or text someone if I need to.

Not so fast! For security, I had recently enabled 2-factor authentication on my Google account. I hadn’t logged in to Google on my work computer in a while, so when I went to the Google Voice website to text my friend about my lack of a phone, I was hit with the 2nd-factor verification. Somewhere at home on my pillow, my lonely phone lit up with the code I needed to authenticate the untrusted computer. Crap. My security conscious nature had locked myself out of my own account, which included my personal contacts.

No worry, I figured. I could just dial my friend from my work phone and tell them my dilemma. Nope! I have no idea what their number is…or hardly anyones number for that matter. How many phone numbers do you know from memory these days?

This experience got me thinking about how I could better prepare myself for the next time that this inevitably happens, or worse, if my phone were lost or stolen.

Perhaps it would be a wise idea to simply print out a short list of phone numbers of important contacts and stick it in my wallet. If I don’t have my phone and need to actually dial someone, this could be a lifesaver.

Alternatively, if you are confident that you will have access to a computer of some sort, I suppose you could store important contact info in the cloud using a service like Evernote. I also found out that it is possible to print out a list of 2nd-factor authentication codes for your Google account in the instance that you lose access to your second device (phone.)

Either of the above alternatives are potentially good backup plans, but for simplicity sake, I like the list of printed phone numbers as a simple old school solution.

Words With Friends Stats – For A Fee

I’ve been playing the game Words With Friends for many years now. I began playing way back in 2009 when I got my first iPod Touch. I’ve never been one to tolerate ads in my games, so I bypassed the free version and bought the paid version of the game for $2.99. I bought it well before Zynga acquired the game from Newtoy, the original creator of Words With Friends.

I’ve often had a dozen games going at once, but there are other times when I haven’t touched the game for a couple of months. Currently, I have about 8 games in progress. I usually make my move on each game board once a day when I go to bed at night, but sometimes more often throughout the day, depending on what I’m doing. In all the years I’ve been playing, there is no doubt that I’ve gotten my $3 worth out of this game.

Since Zynga acquired Words With Friends back in late 2010, the company has made several attempts to eke out ever more dollars from its users, even those of us who already paid to download the game in the past. To date, there are the following bonus items available for in-app purchase: Tile Pile ($0.99), Word-O-Meter ($2.99), and the Ultimate Play Pack ($14.99). I don’t know why any of these bonus features would be necessary for gameplay, or what would compel anyone to actually buy them.

I had asked Zynga for years to add some form of win/loss statistics to the game. I’d never understood why that feature wasn’t incorporated in the initial version. What is the motivation to try as hard as you can to win when your loss ratio isn’t tallied in the first place? Also, what negative reinforcement is there to discourage people from just resigning the games that they clearly aren’t going to win? Unfortunately, people do that all the time. The lack of game stats has been a point of frustration for me.

Here is a tweet I wrote to Newtoy way back on September 14, 2010: “@newtoy Why doesn’t Words With Friends keep a tally of my win/loss count? Can this be added as a feature? I’d like to know my game record.”

Yesterday, Zynga answered the call with a new Words With Friends feature: A lifetime win/loss stats page! It’s about time they finally got around to adding this! Not so fast, though. There is a catch. You must fork out $4.99 to access the stats page! That’s lunacy. I don’t care enough to even pay $1, let alone $5. How many people are going to be willing to pay that much money for some stats that they have been playing without for years already? They are simply trying to squeeze every last drop of money that they can on this game. I don’t approve of this senseless money grab one bit. Sorry, but I won’t be paying $5 for the privilege of seeing my stats. No way!

If you want to play with me, my username is Blitzcraig2.

Words With Friends stats for a fee